Home > Rugby, Rugby News, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (23/06/2012)

The Drawing Board (23/06/2012)

Welcome to Who’s Playing Who?’s weekly rugby blog. This week saw round two of the northern hemisphere tours to the southern hemisphere. The ledger still stands at 2 wins to the north, and 8 to the southern sides. However, this does not paint the whole picture of the weekend, as the difference between the sides wasn’t that great. The scorelines were often quite tight, with the games only really being decided in the dying moments of the game.

Foreign Affairs

New Zealand 22 – 19 Ireland

A last gasp drop goal from fly-half Dan Carter propelled New Zealand to a dramatic victory over Ireland in their clash in the first test played in Christchurch in almost two years. The Irish led 10-9 at half-time, but an Aaron Smith try just after the break edged the All Blacks ahead. Jonathan Sexton kept his side in touch with solid goal-kicking but Carter, a proud Crusaders player, had the last word.

The record books will state that Ireland have now lost 25 out of 26 fixtures against New Zealand. However, with Israel Dagg sin-binned for a bad tackle on Rob Kearney, they never had a better chance to get that much-needed victory.

Man of the Match: Ireland’s Cian Healey may have ended the match on the losing side but his performance was heroic. A key figure in a dominant scrum, he was a bundle of power and energy from start to finish. Dan Carter comes a close second.

Key Moment: With the game in the balance deep in the second half, Ireland were pressing for an historic win but were called for running around at a scrum. The All Blacks took the ball and with it territory and eventually the win.

Australia 25 – 23 Wales

Another close one as an after-the-hooter penalty from replacement fly-half Mike Harris propelled Australia to a dramatic victory over Wales..

Wales appeared on course to keep the series alive with an historic first win over the Wallabies in Australia since 1969 as the faultless boot of Leigh Halfpenny kept the Grand Slam champions in front. But with the clock in the red New Zealand referee Chris Pollock penalised Wales after Australia launched a powerful rolling maul and Harris showed nerves of steel to crush Welsh dreams.

Man of the Match: Australia fly-half Berrick Barnes was quite superb and ran the game beautifully. Set up his side’s try and kicked his goals, aside from a late miss due to injury.

Key Moment: With Wales 60 seconds away from a famous win and pressing Australia in their 22, replacement hooker Richard Hibbard lost his head and dived in at the side of a ruck. Australia kicked downfield, and the rest is history.

South Africa 36 – 27 England

England slipped to a series defeat in South Africa with a defeat in their second Test clash.

Ben Youngs crossed twice as England came in sight of an unlikely victory after trailing 28-10 but a late try from JP Pietersen ended the comeback. England paid the price for a poor start as Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis and Francois Hougaard claimed early tries for the Springboks. The tourists’ other points came from Toby Flood, who impressed on his recall with a first-half try and five successful goal kicks.

Man of the Match: South Africa’s Bismarck du Plessis delivered a barn-storming display that included a try and a memorable hand-off on England’s Geoff Parling. A constant threat at the set-piece and in the loose, the Boks lost so much momentum when he was withdrawn.

Key Moment: The Boks deserved their victory but got a priceless foothold thanks to an error from the officials. Ref Alain Rolland and his assistant Steve Walsh failed to spot the ball was not touched by the England front row when fed into an early scrum. The ball went straight through the scrum and was pounced upon by South Africa’s Willem Alberts who coasted in for the opening try when play should have been called back for another scrum.

Tips

SOUTH AFRICA V ENGLAND – The Springboks are currently leading the series 2-0 which means the series is already sealed and this match is just to see if the Springboks can whitewash England or could England finish the tour on a high.

England coach Lancaster said earlier this week to his “dirt-trackers” that those who play well in their match against the BaaBaa’s could see themselves playing in the Test match and he certainly kept his promise after making quite a number of changes to his Test team. The most notable change is that of the midweek star Thomas Waldrom who played exceptionally well during the midweek game. Another big hype has been made about Alex Goode inclusion on fullback so it will be interesting to see how he fairs in his run-on Test. On the Springbok side Gio Aplon will be the man to watch with his blistering pace and elusiveness he could create havoc from the back. Also keep an eye on debutant Potgieter who would want to make an impact in his first test.

England will be hoping to produce a performance to the equivalent of last week’s 30minute in the second half where they managed to crawl back on the scoreboard. South Africa on the other hand started and finished off strongly but somewhere in between lost the plot and will be hoping to give a solid 80 minute performance. South Africa will take this one, but not by much.

AUSTRALIA V WALES – Last weekend Wales lost the last match in the final minute with Mike Harris kicking the winning points after the hooter. Wales could almost taste the victory and that’s possible the reason why they decided to go for continuity and selected an unchanged side for this week’s clash.

Kurtley Beale who returned from injury was picked at fullback after Robbie Deans said Beale is his first choice fly half. This is probably to accommodate Barnes who played a blinder last weekend and with Beale at Nr 15 this will also create the extra bit of spark which was missing in the first two Tests for the Wallabies.

I cannot see Wales altering their game plan as it worked for them last weekend and they can be considered unlucky for losing the match. Australia on the other hand will have to lift their game drastically; maybe Beale brings that certain x-factor to the team. In my opinion, Australia should take this one out and complete the clean sweep of the series.

NEW ZEALAND V IRELAND – Last week this time I didn’t give Ireland a fighting chance to be competitive for the full 80 min against the All Blacks outfit let along almost winning the Test, only losing it with a sneaky drop goal from Dan Carter in the last minute.

Now for me this brave display from Ireland created one of two options. Either Ireland finally noticed the All Blacks isn’t so invincible as everyone thought and can be beaten which will spur Ireland to come with a massive onslaught to take the final Test or the other option is the All Blacks got a massive wakeup call and Ireland woke up a sleeping giant….

Maybe it’s a bit of both which could spell out that we are in for a humdinger of a match with Ireland smelling blood and the All Blacks waking up after underestimating the Irish in the 2nd Test.

The AB’s will take the field without their star talisman Carter but if Cruden’s form in the SuperRugby is anything to go by Ireland should keep a eye on him as he is in my opinion the in-form flyhalf in NZ at the moment.

Although together both teams made 9 changes to last weekend’s lineups I cannot see any team being weakened by those changes. Expect the teams to display the same intensity that they showed in last weekend Test. I think that New Zealand should take this one out.

 

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